Stayers Hurdle Tips - 3.30pm Cheltenham

Leading Contenders

Over the years the Stayers Hurdle has been the least competitive of the Championship races with no less than six favourites winning the contest since 2008. This years renewal looks a much more open event and many will fancy their chances of Festival glory.

If you’re looking for a good story then venture no further than the 6yo Sam Spinner. Trained up at Middelham by Jedd O’Keefe it will certainly be one of the training performances of the year if he managed to pull this one off.

At the end of last season the horse had only had four starts over hurdles, winning two and finishing with a mark of 136. He ran off that mark on his seasonal bow at Chepstow and was second to Court Minstrel. Next time out at Haydock he ran over 3m for the first time and won a Grade 3 handicap by an impressive 17 lengths.

Connections were starting to think they had something special and I suppose they needed to know what sort of programme to aim at so they entered him in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, by far the stiffest task to date, by now his mark was 155. He took that race in his stride and beat horses such as L’Ami Serge, Lil Rockerfeller and Unowhatimeanharry.

He is now officially the highest rated runner in the race on 164 which stacks up well with previous winners, Nichols Canyon was 161 and Cole Harden 158 when they carried off the first prize in recent years.

Irish trained horses have not had the best of times in the Stayers Hurdle, only Solwhit and Nichols Canyon have been successful in the last 20 years. The main hope this time round could be Supasundae trained by Jessica Harrington who has showed improved form since stepping up in trip.

The 8yo was a good second to Yanworth at Aintree last season and was only just beaten by Apples Jade at Leopardstown at the Christmas Festival. He won the Coral Cup last year off a mark of 148 so it shows how much he has come on in less than 12 months. Last time out he beat Faugheen over two miles at Leopardstown and that has really put him towards the top of the betting for this contest.

Apples Jade is a tough mare and she is another one who has been experimenting with the trip this season. As we have already mentioned she won at Leopardstown and that followed a Grade 1 victory in the Hatton Grace Hurdle over a shorter trip.

The Gordon Elliott trained 6yo has plenty of options including the Mares race but would not look out of place in this line up.

Willie Mullins took this race last year with Nicholls Canyon and his leading hope this time could be Penhill who won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at last years Festival. The 7yo was a decent flat horse with Luca Cumani but has certainly taken to the jumping game and has now won six of his nine starts.

His last run was at Punchestown when a decent second to Champagne Classic, unfortunately an injury ruled him out of the Melbourne Cup but he can hopefully line up at Cheltenham.

One horse who will definitely be lining up is The New One trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, he has ran in the Champion Hurdle for the last four seasons and as he’s getting older he has just lost that little bit of speed. Trainers’ son and jockey Sam has always said he would love to give the Stayers Hurdle a try before the horse retires and this year he gets his wish.

Back in the day he did win the Neptune over 2m5f so there is no reason to suggest he wont get the trip although last season he was beaten both times he went over 2m4f. The horse is in good form at the moment and won the Haydock Champion Hurdle trial yet again in January so he should put up a bold show in March.

Yanworth is another top class hurdler that is considering this race; he also won the Neptune and has since been trying to carve out a chasing career. He did win a Grade 2 contest last time out but has never really looked a natural so the rumours are that he could revert back to hurdles and he has already won a Grade 1 hurdle race over 3m at Aintree last season.

Finians Oscar had to miss the Festival last year but made up for it by winning at Aintree and finishing a gallant second at Punchestown. This season was going to be all about chasing but its fair to say things haven’t gone to plan. He’s had four goes and won twice but just hasn’t been showing the form to win a JLT so he has been redirected here in the hope he can rekindle his old form.

The Tizzard’s won this race with Thistlecrack in 2016 but this 6yo has yet to race over this kind of trip under rules so he has lots of questions to answer. He remains an exciting youngster and I have no doubt he will improve on his present mark of 151.

Last year’s beaten favourite Unowhatimeanharry will be back to try to make up for that disappointment, he was third that day and put to an end his 8-race unbeaten record. He went on to beat his conqueror Nichols Canyon at Punchestown a month later and everything seemed to be back on track.

So far this season he has been beaten twice by Beer Goggles at Newbury and Sam Spinner at Ascot and he just hasn’t looked himself so far this term. If he could bounce back to his best form he would have every chance in what looks a wide-open contest.

Stayers Hurdle Runners

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Stayers Hurdle Trends

Stayers Hurdle Previous Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer SP
2017 Nichols Canyon 7 Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 10/1
2016 Thistlecrack 8 Tom Scudamore Colin Tizzard Evs
2015 Cole Harden 6 Gavin Sheehan Warren Greatrex 14/1
2014 More Of That 6 Barry Geraghty Jonjo O'Neill 15/2
2013 Solwhit 9 Paul Carberry Charles Byrnes 17/2
2012 Big Buck's 9 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 5/6
2011 Big Buck's 8 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 10/11
2010 Big Buck's 7 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 5/6
2009 Big Buck's 6 Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 6/1
2008 Inglis Drever 9 Denis O'Regan Howard Johnson 11/8




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